Down the Rabbit Hole with Arthur Erickson

One of the least well-known of modern architects may be the late Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. I stumbled upon his work recently when the Eppich House 2 was listed with Sotheby’s. He had called it his “most complete work” and it is magnificent. Its curves feel Art Deco/Art Moderne so I was surprised to learn that it was built in 1988. In fact, no one had ever used curved metal the way that he did here with this house.

via Sotheby’s

The wall of glass tiles in the living room most likely added to my impression that it was built in an earlier era.

via Sotheby’s

This article on Vancouver is Awesome shares additional details about the house including that Erickson designed the curvilinear furniture found inside and which is being sold with the home. The house is in West Vancouver and listed at nearly $10 million Canadian (which is about $8 million US currently).

via Sotheby’s

Look at that view! The Pacific Ocean is just beyond the trees past the lily pad-like carriage house.

via Sotheby’s

The carriage house fits so well in its natural environment. Just as it resembles a lily pad, lily pads can be seen in the pond that it faces. The chairs and ottoman are by Eero Saarinen, designed at Florence Knoll’s request for “a chair that was like a basket full of pillows — something she could really curl up in.” 

Watch a video tour and interview with Mr. Eppich, the original owner who commissioned the house, here.

via Sotheby’s

The house is one of the locations in the Liam Neeson-movie Cold Pursuit.

via Sotheby’s

There is also an art house film, called Impostor Cities, that will be shown at the Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious international art and architecture exhibition. Per the Arthur Erickson tumblr, the film “highlights the importance of Canadian architecture, and the role it has quietly played in shaping the world’s cultural narratives through film”.

via the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Once I started down the Erickson rabbit hole, I realized that I was familiar with his work if not his name. I had admired the Robson Square “stramp” (stairs + ramp) as a beautiful way to incorporate accessibility with aesthetics. It won the American Society of Landscape Architects President’s Award of Excellence in 1979. However, UX for Architects describes it as beautiful but flawed.

Accessibility experts have expressed concerns about the way the ramps switch back and forth, as well as how steep they are and the way the steps are all the same color, in this CBC story. The story also points out that Erickson’s father lost both legs in World War I, and thus Erickson was ahead of his time in being concerned about making buildings accessible for all.

Erickson died in 2009.

Read more about him on his website here.

Published by eastlansinghome

Carrie Sampson is a longtime resident of East Lansing, Michigan. She has worked in nonprofit communications for over 20 years and in the last decade has become increasingly interested in interior design and issues related to the built environment. Carrie has served as a commissioner on the East Lansing Historic District Commission since 2018. She has written the Eye Candy and Eye for Design columns in the Lansing City Pulse since 2019. To learn more or to work with her, send an email to mrscarrsamp AT gmail DOT com.

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